Skip to comments.New U.S. top court term has abortion, race cases - 'Potential Blockbuster Term'
Posted on 09/28/2006 7:37:43 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court's new term has cases on abortion, the environment and racial diversity in schools, some of the country's most contentious social issues for a court primed to shift sharply to the right by President George W. Bush's conservative appointees.
The nation's highest court, with Bush's two appointees, could decide to limit or overturn recent precedents upholding abortion rights for women and programs to foster a racially diverse student body, legal experts said.
"The term is going to be a bellwether on the shift in the court's ideology. The court is revisiting a series of profound issues," said Tom Goldstein, a Washington lawyer who closely follows the court.
"With Justice (Sandra Day) O'Connor's departure from the ideological center seat, there's the prospect for a significant shift to the right," he said of the term that begins on Monday.
It will be the second full term for Chief Justice John Roberts, who succeeded the late William Rehnquist, and the first full term for Justice Samuel Alito, who replaced the more moderate O'Connor. Bush appointed both Roberts and Alito.
In the cases on hot-button issues, the Bush administration has urged the high court to uphold a federal law that bans some abortion procedures and to strike down race-based student assignment plans for public elementary and secondary schools.
In the environmental case, the Bush administration defended before the court its decision not to regulate car and truck emissions that many scientists say contribute to global warming.
POTENTIAL 'BLOCKBUSTER TERM'
"This has the potential for being a blockbuster term," Duke University law professor Erwin Chemerinsky said. "Socially significant cases, legally significant cases, cases that affect the rights of large numbers of people -- all of that is already present."
The experts agreed on the emerging importance of moderate conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy as the key swing vote. In the high-profile cases, he could cast the decisive vote on the nine-member court with four liberals and four conservatives.
With Roberts and Alito, Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas make up the conservative bloc. The liberals consist of Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.
In considering the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 and the use of student assignment plans to achieve racial diversity, the court could revisit issues it addressed only a few years ago, the experts said.
The court by a 5-4 vote in 2000 struck down a similar Nebraska abortion law. The experts said they will be watching closely whether the court follows that precedent and strikes down the federal law involving a late-term abortion procedure.
In 2003, the court by a 5-4 vote upheld the use of race as a factor in admissions at a public university. The experts said they will be watching if that precedent is extended to the use of race as a factor for elementary and secondary school assignments.
O'Connor voted in the majority in both cases.
"One way or another, the outcome of these cases will tell us a great deal about the future direction of the Roberts court," Steven Shapiro, the American Civil Liberties Union's legal director, said.
The experts said more cases involving Bush's war on terrorism, including the domestic warrantless surveillance program, would eventually reach the Supreme Court, although it might not be in the upcoming term.
The Supreme Court ended its last term with a landmark ruling on June 29 that struck down as illegal the military tribunal system that Bush initially established to try Guantanamo prisoners.
Wow, better vote for the Rats or Bush will get to pass more illegal laws and stuff.
This is the real test of Bush's legacy - Supreme Court rulings.
Reuters probably needn't worry. With McCain and Guiliani the supposed front runners for the Republicans, no matter who wins in 2008, Dem or Republican the balance should shift back to the "living" Constitutionalists. Even more worrisome is that we keep focusing on possible replacements for Justices Ginsberg and Stevens....but Scalia and Thomas aren't exactly spring chickens any more! Why do I think that the absurd concept of seats belonging to a particular philosophy that was advanced to argue against Justice Alito replacing Sandra Day O'Connor won't appeal to the liberals any more?
I predict the PBA law is upheld 5-4, the race cases are reversed 5-4, and the global warming case is upheld 5-4, in other words, the conservatives win all the major cases. Of course, with Kennedy in the mix, there's never a sure thing, but he's good on aff action/race cases, he wrote a very strong dissent in the pba case a few years back, and i think on the global warming case, Roberts will be able to at least get him to agree to a ruling that amounts to a victory.
Just so. Roe v. Wade will not be reversed until we have even more political pressure to do so, and have seen several more strict constructionist judges appointed to the court.
It remains to be seen whether we can keep up the momentum for as long as necessary. The Democrats have worked tirelessly to appoint a legion of leftist activists to the courts, from the highest levels on down. The Republicans have only countered this agenda sporadically, and have constantly been outmaneuvered and outwitted. Now the momentum is on our side, but it's not certain whether the political will is there.
Bush has added two solid judges to the court. But we need two or three more, and many more on the various appeals courts and circuit courts. We simply can't afford to let up on this most pressing of all issues.
Even the War on Terror takes a back seat to judicial appointments, because as we have seen, SCOTUS has the power to damage the war effort, working with the Democrats in congress, the press, and the media.
I agree on the PBA. Not sure on the race cases. They might split the baby there unless they overrule the 2003 cases. As for the global warming case, it seems Kennedy has turned to the left when it comes to environmental issues, so I'm not sure at all that we're going to win that one.
John Paul Stevens is 86...surely he's ready to retire, or die.
There will be no blockbusters in the correct direction. The left still has a death-grip on five seats on the Court. One more conservative justice and watch the blockbusters roll.
Sleeping Beauty aka Ruth Bader isn't a spring chicken either
all that said, i'd gladly trade a victory in the pba case for the other cases. it's just that much more important, in my view.
Conservatives have been fighting for 10 years for a PBA ban. I hope the hard work in electing Bush and a GOP Senate finally pays off.
If he can get 1 more judge up there his Presidency will be a success. If he can get 2 his Presidency will be great for restoring order to an entire branch of government.
Thanks for the ping!
Count me in.